Luke Joeckel, arguably the top player in the 2013 NFL Draft ran poor 40-yard dash times at the NFL Combine.
Unofficially, he ran times of 5.22 and 5.35, while Lane Johnson ran a 4.75 in both of his chances. Joeckel's closest competition for the top tackle spot in the draft, Eric Fisher, ran an unofficial 5.01 and a 5.07.
Consider this a warning. People are going to start talking about how Joeckel's 40-yard dash time compares favorably to Cincinnati Bengals right tackle Andre Smith. Or how the best tackles taken in recent years – Joe Thomas, Jake Long, Duane Brown, Trent Williams, Russell Okung, Tyron Smith and Matt Kalil – all broke the five-second mark in the 40.
They're also going to bring up NFL Network's Mike Mayock saying he's "a bit concerned" how Joeckel handled speed rushers and that he was beat on the inside.
But remember at the 2010 combine when Bruce Campbell of Maryland ran a 4.78? Or in 2007 when Allen Barbre ran a 4.84? NFL teams probably don't.
The point is, the 40-yard dash for offensive tackles largely doesn't matter. The 40-yard dash doesn't measure athleticism. It's not the three-cone drill. The drill tests pure speed, and nothing else. It's notable that Joeckel ran slow times. It's not newsworthy. It certainly shouldn't hurt his NFL Draft stock. He should still be the first tackle selected.
"Yeah, definitely coming into this thing I wanted to be the first tackle taken in the draft," Joeckel said at the NFL Combine. "Now I know it’s a long process until then. I’m trying to do every single thing right to make sure that happens. I know it’s a competition between him (Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher) against the other guys, you know (Oklahoma’s) Lane Johnson. It’s good type of competition between all of us. That’s one of the fun parts about the combine – the competition aspect of it, going against some of the best athletes at your position in the country."
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